Dark Chocolate Can Help in Better Leg Circulation
Poor leg circulation – known in medical circles as peripheral artery disease or PAD, can be a particularly serious problem for men and women. Symptoms of poor leg circulation include numbness, tingles and even pain in the legs.
Recently, an article published in the Journal of the American Heart Association discussed the results of a single blind study on a group of 20 men and women. Participants were between the ages of 60 and 78 and had been diagnosed with PAD. The participants who were asked to walk on a treadmill after eating 40 grams of dark chocolate were able to walk 39 feet farther and 17 seconds longer than those who consumed milk chocolate. Half of the participants were asked to consume milk chocolate with less than 30 percent cocoa before walking on the treadmill; the other half was asked to consume dark chocolate with at least 85 percent dark cocoa.
According to the journal article, the idea is that the antioxidants in the dark chocolate and nitric oxide present after participants ate the dark chocolate may help to widen the peripheral arteries and improve blood flow. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to dilate, making it easier and providing a wider area for blood to flow through.
The authors of the journal article note that a major downside of the study is the sample size – there were just 20 participants. Other limiting factors included the single-blind study design and lack of a control group. Some say the overall effect of the dark chocolate was small – the increase in walking distance was just 11 percent. Doctors say more research is needed before dark chocolate is suggested as a treatment for PAD and vascular health, but that the results are intriguing and positive.